FIVE EMERGING BLACK FILMMAKERS TO LOOK FORby Chigo Ibekwe and Olamide Soleye
“Underground filmmakers”, “independent filmmakers”, “art house filmmakers”, whatever terminology one chooses to describe such filmmakers, there always will be their niche, almost esoteric and “auteuristic” approach to film. The prioritization of artistic integrity as opposed to personal integrity is what one could say makes these filmmakers differ , and that being the case we feel the need to narrow down this subject matter specifically to the black people involved in the scene.
5. Sosa Edo
Photography by Isabel Okoro
Sosa Edo is a Nigerian-born, New York-based artist and filmmaker whose work dwells more on feel rather than total cohesiveness and heavy reliance on artistic references. Take for example his work, Co-exist, which is a coalition of the visual union of images he had subconsciously gathered, which, according to him, described his state of mind at the time. These images consisted of works from Frida Orupabo’s exhibition, Two-Thirds Pleasure, which explored the themes of race, post-colonialism, and a search for identity in the multifarious nature of media; Michael Armitage’s paintings, Kampala Suburb and Clarinet, and Radcliffe Baileys Ascents and Echoes all which summed up to what he described as “heartbreak”.
4. Hans Onyeama
Nigerian-born filmmaker with little to no social media presence, I stumbled upon his film/performance art, Conversations of Ben Davis, on YouTube.
A compilation of videos of his traveling from place to place and an audio excerpt from Ben Davis’ monologue scene in Ozark, I could only be moved watching it.
Conversations of Ben Davis (2020)
3. Cassia Agyeman
Agyeman’s debut short Metamorphose is a constrained piece that uses all its elements to paint a full picture; set in one room in a space of time that feels purgatorial. The relationship between anatomy and space is understood to its full extent here. Under just two minutes, Agyeman plays with immersion in order for you to understand her focal point more. It’s the tiny things shown to the audience here (meta or not) that makes this “concept” something that gives you more than what you entered the film with. A stunning and short feat.
2. Miles Warren
This is a major shoutout and a bit of a plea. Warren has a feature film that was released on HULU the day of my writing this. This feature is an expansion of his 2021 short Bruiser, sharing the same title.
The short is magnificent. Warren’s style is rooted in audacious documentation, whether that be a news feature on the toting daughters of gun owners in Southern America or a WORLDSTAR fight video where someone gets rocked in 240p. Bruiser explores the space that resides when the phone cameras are off and everything is all consequence. It’s a gorgeous film, despite its subject matter. Warren’s influences lead towards a strong sense of formality, but enjoys space in proximity to the raw capturing of anarchy.
Check out the short, and check out the feature. I think he has something that a lot of people will love.
1. John Ogunmuyiwa
I’m grateful for films because they exist in multitudes. Every new one you see is in conversation with the one before it, slowly changing how we see form, balance and structure. One of the most out of body experiences is to feel seen in work you consume. The feeling of now sharing a personal and creative bond with this work and the people behind it. Being understood through the vessel of something you love and the wonder of no prescience for what comes next. That’s how I felt after viewing John Ogunmuyiwa’s film, Wilson. A riveting cinematic exercise showing what social anxiety looks and feels like.
I embarked upon Ogunmuyiwa’s 2020 short, MANDEM, after it had made quite a splash at the London Film Festival. I haven’t been pulled into a filmmaker’s work that fast since. MANDEM moved at a brisk pace with a confidence and charisma that fixed me to my seat, placing me on a rollercoaster ride through what at the end of the day was just a day between two friends. They have had other days like the one we see here and will probably have a few more. The reveal at its end will expand its staying power in the heads of most, providing a certain amount of shock value that could turn most of the audience’s premonition on the characters on its head, but anyone who was paying attention could see it all along. Screen or no screen.
The 28-year-old filmmaker, hailing from Croydon, was his family’s in-house photographer. Something I’d like to think has helped cultivate his efficiency at capturing the intimate in an incredibly vocal and unique way.
All links to movies below:
Conversations of Ben Davis
A Home for the Cinema Underground
A Home for the Cinema Underground